Hunter Hunted (Windows)

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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39490)
Written on  :  Mar 05, 2006
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

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Is it beast, or is it man?

The Good

Hunter Hunted is an excellent platform game created by Dynamix and published by Sierra On-Line. Now, I got introduced to the small Eugene, Oregon company when I played all three of their top-notch adventure games (particularly Heart of China). All three were designed by Jeff Tunnell, who also spearheaded Hunter Hunted, along with Chris Cole, the man who did the 3-D Ultra Pinball series.

In the year 2015, a technically superior race of brutal alien warriors invaded earth. Known as the “Masters”, they exterminated or enslaved most of the population. Only the fastest and strongest were placed in “Hunter Hunted”, a series of dark, lethal arenas deep in the bowels of decimated cities. Among the survivors are Jake, an athletic human capable of utilizing advanced weaponry; and Garathe Den, a minotaur who has the ability to jump farther, use whips, and climb better than his opponent. Although the two protagonists have their plus and minuses, they have one thing in common: to collect parts for their getaway vehicles scattered around the arenas so that they can escape the Masters and their violent game.

There are three modes of play. The Single Player mode consists of 65 missions, and the first set of these serve as tutorials to get people used to the game. Each mission has a different set of objectives that you must complete before leaving through the exit gate. To make sure you fail, the Masters have placed a variety of enemies in your way, and you have to defeat most of them in order to proceed. There are also secrets to uncover, and these can often be found by pushing against a wall for a few seconds. Also, you have to collect either keys or keycards to unlock doors scattered throughout some levels. Some missions require you to complete objectives within a certain time limit. Like most of the games that were released around the same time, you are provided with infinite lives. Passing or failing a mission brings up a tally screen, which let you know how many enemies you defeated, treasures you collected, and secrets you uncovered.

The rest of the levels in Hunter Hunted are reserved for multiplayer. In either Head-to-Head or Co-Op, one person controls Jake while the other controls Garathe Den, and both of these characters are customizable before the game begins. The multiplayer portion doesn’t rely on the Internet so you can play these levels on your own, although this can be a bit boring.

The highpoint of this game is the visuals, which are impressive for a game released in 1996. Most of the levels contain graffiti on the walls, which give you visual clues on what lies ahead. Most of the levels have windows that you can peek through, and each one of the windows can contain different things. One window, for example, shows an inaccessible hallway, while another shows a security center, yet in another, you see a woman looking at you with fire in the background. Equally impressive are the doorways that you must pass through from time to time. You can actually see enemies traveling back and forth in the distance, allowing you to determine when is the best time to enter that doorway.

The rotoscoped animations are quite neat, with both Jake and Garathe Den just looking cool running around and jumping all over the place. These types of animations are similar to the ones in Flashback: The Quest for Identity. I enjoyed the zooming effect whenever you enter the doorway, and this is an effect not seen in games released around the same time. The way that both characters opens the exit door and goes through also looks nice.

The 10 CD audio tracks that play during the background range from techno to heavy metal, and are brilliantly composed. Each soundtrack plays randomly and are not restricted to each level. If you get tired of the soundtrack, you can set the music to “None” within the game’s menu. Sound-wise, I really enjoyed listening to the Master’ taunts as you read your objectives, as well as the Mortal Kombat reference when you leave the level through the gate. Jake’s humor is also noticeable, with my favorite hearing him say “Surprise, Surprise” as he discovers a secret area.

I enjoyed playing most of the missions, and it is pretty neat that you can go back and play the same ones to get a good feel of them. There are also add-ons levels (identified with a red plus sign in the “Choose Mission” screen) that you can play that are not related to the main missions. I also believe that there is an editor sold separately that will let you create your own levels and distribute them.

When you have installed the game, you get access to “Hunted Hunted Survival Guide”, giving you information about the game mechanics, enemies, and traps. I found reading the Guide interesting as there was stuff about certain things I didn’t know about before. The only things missing are hints and tips on each level, including the multiplayer portions. Also included are various game demos, the first two 3-D Ultra Pinball games. You cannot customize the controls and you can only play the games for five minutes.

The Bad

Some missions require you to destroy a certain number of security robot or other enemy in order to pass the mission, yet the game fails to tell you in its heads-up display how many more remain in the level. I thought that I had destroyed the required amount and made my way to the exit, only to be told that the objectives were not satisfied. In addition to this, Dynamix could have let you access an in-game map that you use to navigate through the levels by and avoid going round in circles.

The Bottom Line

As one of Dynamix’s titles that was overlooked at the time, Hunter Hunted is an action game where, as either a human or beast, you must complete a series of tasks given to you by the Masters as part of their deadly game. There are puzzles to solve, but these mainly involve pressing a number of switches in the correct sequence. Not only are the visuals and soundtrack impressive, but the game can be expanded by installing add-on levels and a editor. A downside to the game is it was only released for PCs running Windows 95, so users who were still running 3.1x were encouraged to upgrade.